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California 4, Michael Levy 3, Berkeley 3, Marina 2, Petco 2, Chiu 2, Sacramento 2, San Franciscans 2, Mr. Weiss 2, Michael Williams 2, Emily Scott Patrick 1, Joe Aiollo 1, Mike Murray 1, Bobby Lernered 1, Sean Moore 1, Geary 1, Mirkarimi 1, Pam 1, Obligate Us 1, Starbucks 1,
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  SFGTV    [untitled]  

    September 14, 2010
    4:00 - 4:30pm PDT  

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leave. market forces. president chiu: supervisor mirkarimi. supervisor mirkarimi: and to add to that reality is the fact that we have, because of the economy, large sizable vacant stores throughout the city and county of san francisco so the automatic theory will be no small business is going to be able to occupy those spaces so let's just go ahead and assume that we're lucky enough to have a chain store formula retail to come in and do so for us or else that building will remain vacant. there is literally no strategy citywide or even within our districts that is helping answer this question. i can tell you, with the termination of redevelopment's jurisdiction in the fillmore and western addition which has been completely inundated with formula retail, once those
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businesses go belly-up, because of the cheer size of those, you would only obligate us to return to the formula retail and keep that domino effect going forward. that's what's pertinent to the discussion before us is a requirement that we have a more modernized assessment on how to deal with these issues because case by case they'll continue to come before us and we're not, i think, answering the problem that is before us. president chiu: colleagues, any additional discussion? at this time, i'd like to ask the project sponsor if you could step up for your presentation. you have up to 10 minutes for your presentation to be divided with whoever you wish. >> my name is sean moore, i'm counsel for pet food express and i'm going to introduce its founder to you shortly but i
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wanted to try to frame a couple of issues, because we're sensing some of the frustration that we've been feeling for a while. because we're not quite sure what the policy, the deciding policy issue on this formula retail. is it a question of what the neighborhood wants? and if it's that, then the neighborhood is pretty clearly spoken and you'll hear more about that and, after outreach we've done, it's pretty clear the neighborhood does want us. is the question, are we going to add something to this neighborhood? as you've heard from staff, this place has been vacant for a long period of time. you'll hear lots of comment about the issues that have gone on because of the vacancy with vagrancy and what have you. it has been a formula retail in the past and this is a fairly steep block, it's not a nice little walking area like sacramento street might be. is the issue about money coming or staying in the city? i'm glad to report that my law office's main office is in san francisco. george, who is the leading --
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one of the leading vocal ponents to this sent out an email that you may have seen that says, our new shipping and billing address is our address in berkeley. so apparently, their money is going outside the city. to stay with george for a moment. when the planning commission scrutinized george, the owner was quite clear to say, one, we're an international tourist destination, and two, our customers are loyal, they're not going anywhere else. so it's hard for george to say they're hurt when at the same time they say our customers will stay with us. so then the question we've been hearing from some of you over this is, what about the competitive impacts? and is formula retail about having no competition or not? and i was struggling with this so i tried to think, i canvass today a colleague of mine who used to work for one of the
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city's former antitrust lawyers, grandfather of one of your members, joe aiollo, and he said competition is not bad, what's bad is bad competition. if you have someone that is predatory, if pet food express3 had tricked cat nip and boons out of the space they wanted on california street, that would be one thing. if pet food express was selling below cost to put competitors out of business, that would be a bad thing. if pet food express was deliberately going to customers and vendors of their competitors and trying to lure them away, that might be bad competition. but you haven't seen any evidence that, you haven't heard any evidence on that, and you can't, because we don't compete on price. we don't know what the overall competitive impact is. we know that one of our competitors wrote you a letter. his name is bobby lernered.
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he owns a place near glen park called critter fritters. he's been a competitor of pet food express for 25 years. he says, look, the competition for this pet specialty food is grocery stores. the small boutique stores in san francisco, myself included, benefit from pet food express because their advertising calls attention to the fact that there's higher end, better quality food that's available. they take customers away from the grocery stores. so within those confines, if they're using their market par to shift people away from the grocery store competition, it can benefit the small boutique industrials who are also trying to find that niche. but the point is, no one knows for sure whether pet food express will impact a store on geary street or, you know, on sacramento street. it takes a lot of money do that kind of economic analysis and we
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haven't done that. i'd like to introduce someone whom i don't think the formula retail contemplates, the bank of america, the gap. michael levy founded this company in san francisco, he gives back to this community. he knows how to run a small business and runs 34 small businesses. we give back to the community and he can speak to that better than i. >> good afternoon, supervisors, thank you for your time. my name is michael levy and i am the founder and co-owner of pet food express. we are not a publicly traded company and we do not have investors. i opened my first small pet supply store on westportal avenue back in 1980. since then, we've stride to provide customers with quality products and great customer service. we chose not to sell pets but put our efforts into promoting
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the adoption of homeless pets and helping every rescue and shelter throughout the bay area. we work very hard to-ing be good neighbors and fit well into our communities. during the process of planning commission approval for a proposed new store, we reached out to the neighborhood. michael williams spent two months talking to neighbors about the process and obtaining signatures from the business owners themselves. through the outreach, we received overwhelming support from the individual merchants in the commercial district of the of the 93 merchants polled, 74 supported us opening up the spot, three were opposed and 16 did not voice an opinion. the report, i believe, is in the packet. in addition, we received letters of support from both of the merchant associations in rncd, the sacramento merchants. we also received the support of the greater geary merchants and property association, university avenue, and pets unlimited.
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copies of these are in the packet. there are no pet stores in and around cd. the stores who oppose us are from outside the neighborhood. they have stated if we are aloud to open on california street, 24 pet scores will be impacted. the locations they listed were within two miles of the proposed store but six of the 24 are veterinarians, pet hospitals or groomers, all of which we don't compete with and seven of the rest are walgreens or safe way but most importantly they've never given factual history that we've caused another business to fold. george, a well merchandised pet boutique, is our closest distant neighbor. the owner, mr. weiss is, one of the key organizers you've heard from. he opened his first pet boutique in berkeley over 10 years ago. i opened my store about seven years ago and it was only six
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miles from his store. not only have both our stores co-existed for seven years but i understand that the success of george's shop in berkeley helped mr. weiss open his store in 2008. there are currently two pet stores in san francisco. our market street opened almost four years ago and there has been no 39 in the number of pet-related businesses around us. our jones store opened six years ago and at that time there were three other pet stores within two miles. six years later, those stores are still in business, all three, and there are three additional pet stores that have opened. according to the pet industry, grocery stores and mass merchants such as costco and trader joe's account for approximately 25% of all the pet food sold in the country. they're our real competition. fortunately, the pet industry
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grows every year. in 1994, it did $19 billion and this year is projected to top $47. given the fact that there are more pets in san francisco and more being adopted daily on a regular basis, there is room for more good pet supply stores in an ever-expanding marketplace. this year, our two san francisco stores will generate about $722,000 in sales tax and over $25,000 in other fees to the city. if we're able to open a new store on california street, it should add another $300,000 and about an additional $8,000 in fees. our proposed store will initially create 10 to 12 new jobs which should increase to about 15 new jobs within the first two years. we currently employ 35 san francisco residents. in a 2010 survey by the bay area newspaper group, pet food express was rated number seven out of the 15 top medium bay
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area workplaces. i opened my first pet supply store in san francisco over 30 years ago. please allow us to open this new store, one which will truly benefit san franciscans and their pets. thank you very much for your time. president chiu: thank you. are there any final speakers as part of the project sponsor? >> my name is mike murray, director of community relations for pet food express. i've been involved in bay area animal rescue for 17 years now. i've known michael and mark for 15 years, long before they were a big business or considered a chain. i started a dog rescue group 15 years ago and i saw firsthand how their help and assistance helped our group grow. i joined the company five years ago because i admired their community support of animal welfare and i have an opportunity to further that and grow it. thank you. president chiu: thank you very much. let me ask if there are members of the public that wish to speak
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on behalf of the project sponsor, if you could please step up to the microphone and line up in the center aisle. why don't we hear from our first speaker? >> i'm louise actually and i'm the vice president of the police canine organization. we're non-profit and i'm unpaid volunteer and i spend part of my week for my regular job in san francisco every week and since i raise some police dogs as a volunteer, i patronize pet food express as well as cool places like george. what i want to say today is that pet food express has been incredible in terms of giving us the support and helping us with our fundraisers to provide safety equipment such as bullet-proof vests and custom medical kits, as well as heat alarms for the cars.
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both the san francisco sheriff and san francisco police department are currently working for us. as a consumer i've always found that i both patronize the smaller boutique stores for some of the unique things they have as well as pet food express. and we would really appreciate if you guys could support having some new business in san francisco with their new store. and like us, we appreciate the smaller stores, as well. thank you. president chiu: thank you, next speaker. >> supervisors, good afternoon, my name is bob tandler. i've lived and worked in this neighborhood since 1986, i've raised my children here. i'm very well familiar with the neighborhood. i think this store would be a good thing for the neighborhood. i think their pet rescue activities would be good, there's a lot of people with pets around there and their policy of not bringing in more pets where there's so many
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homeless pets is a great one for san franciscans. and i frankly believe that as a small business that started in san francisco and wants to open a small store in his home town, i don't believe we would say no to the fisher family on this. we should encourage our businesses to stay local. thank you very much. >> good afternoon, everyone. my name is emily scott patrick, i'm a resident of district 2. i am a noted animal advocate as well as a community volunteer and non-profit volunteer and board member. i have confirmed for your offices that you all received my letter stating i was present at the july 8 granting meeting and i spoke there, as well. in addition to pointing out the reasons to the planning committee that pet food express, so respectfully, i will not
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repeat my letter as i'm sure you have all read it. here is my addendum. as a resident of district 2, i want businesses to be welcome to our community. i no longer want to walk in front of an empty store front covered with garbage and graffiti. we have multiple dress stores, restaurants, and markets competing with each other, et cetera. size doesn't matter. merchandise, service, fair price and convenience does. as a resident of san francisco, i want more businesses here who pay taxes, hire people who in turn shop and spend in san francisco, who rent space and become part of the community. i want san francisco to not only encourage business to be creative here, but also grow here, as well. finally, as someone who is intricately involved in the world of animal welfare and non-profits in general, i want businesses to be like pet food express who spend time, money, expertise, space and product in giving back to the community.
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they embody best practices as a community partner, they have earned the right to be rewarded for their successes. now, i have listened to the other side. you did not hear from a resident of district 2. they, the other side, mentioned they were doing an excellent job. as a resident of district 2, if they were, and i do shop there, as well, i would not drive to a market in stonestown. president chiu: thank you very much. next speaker, please step up to the mic. >> good afternoon, supervisors. my name is marcie schoff and i'm the founder and executive director of save a bunny rabbit rescue and as a rescue person, i'm sad to say all this confrontation in what should be a discussion about what's going to help the animals most in san francisco. i support all the pet stores, the small ones and the big ones, any ones that do not sell animals. i oppose the appeal and i
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support pet food express. i disagree that the money leaves the area. the better pet food express does, the more help we are able to do to get homes for our homeless animals and more supplies we have donated. we work with other small stores that don't sell animals. the boutique stores in the city tend to focus on only cat and dog products, leaving out the thousands of guinea pigs and halfsters and rabbits and rats and gerbils that need good products and pet food express has worked closely with us to offer only those products we've recommended. they don't sell animals like petco and pet smart. we won't work with those companies because of their policies on the sale of animalso to compare pet food express is a petco or pet smart is inaccurate. we refer people who work with us
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to pet food express as well as other stores in their area. we have had other people tell us they do not shop at pet food express even though we give them a coupon because they feel it's too expensive so we also recommend b&b all the time. i don't agree all the time with everything that pet food express does, but they've been an incredible partner to us. i've been doing rescue work in san francisco since 1999 and i've rescued probably over 2,000 animals. i also network with all the cat and dog rescue people, the guinea pig people, and -- president chiu: thank you very much. next speaker. >> my name -- good afternoon. my name is diane boat and i live in the richmond district. i've known michael and his family for about 20 years and have seen the rise of his business and himself in good ways and i love how he gives back to the community and does such good things, you know, for
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so many people, including -- i don't think anyone has brought this up -- that he donated the life vests for the police dogs that were necessary, and nobody was able to give those and he did. i'm probably the smallest business person in san francisco because i am it, i make hats and i make cakes and i do all kinds of things and i want to address the issues that came up about, well, the competition and this and that and the other. well, it takes creativity and imagination. and i think everybody could just use a strong dose of that, and, yes, there is competition, but there's ways to do things in new ways to benefit everyone. thank you. president chiu: next speaker, please. >> hello, my name is joyce lively and i live three blocks from the proposed store and i am wildly in favor of having the store there. this neighborhood is a walking neighborhood. you will see people walking
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everywhere in it. and they're usually walking their dogs, much more so that tn you see people walking kids. the area is very, very pet-friendly. the credit union has dog cookies and running fresh water bowl. the laurel inn next to it allows dogs to stay there and has water bowls outside. i think that having a local pet store will increase even further the foot traffic in the area and keep people from having to go out to b&b and other places and drive their cars. you can just drop into the corner pet food store like you drop into the corner grocery store. when they talk about competition, well, we wouldn't have a trader vick's if they worried about competition because three blocks away are two high-end grocery stores in laurel village and if people worry about competition, we need to shut 90% of the businesses on clement street. competition is really good and i
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think this store will be a neighborhood store. so i think that the quarter-mile or half-mile, or whatever, distance that you consider is very realistic because this is a community. we don't trek out to other neighborhoods unless we have to because we don't have the things that we need. we have two -- three grocery stores in the neighborhood and we go to them and we have a starbucks. we stay in our neighborhood. we have a fabulous vet four blocks away. we walk everywhere and we take our pets everywhere and i think this would be fabulous for our neighborhood and i can't wait for it. thank you. president chiu: next speaker. >> good afternoon, supervisors, my name is alexandra dixon and i've lived in the marina calhalla neighborhood since i
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was 6 years old and my family has always had pets. i'm a private person that shops at pet food express. i also shop at a lot of buteex. i would like the option for pet food express to come to the neighborhood. i don't know if they have a dog wash and if they did, i would wash my dog there. that's something nobody offers except wags. i don't see incompatibility between pet foods and boutiques. i recently spent $50 at a beautiful hand-made leash on union street. i bought a gorgeous dog bed at another boutique. i buy most of my dog food at b&b pets. i drive to a lot of these places to shop there so it's not a neighborhood issue for me, but a question of variety and choice in this economy, if pet food express is offering lower prices, i think that's a value
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to your constituents. but as far as the price matching and predatory pricing is concerned, i know that's theoretically an option, if i walk into a pet food express and say, b&b pets offers this cheaper but it's difficult to go to a store, find out what they charge, then go to pet food express and prove what they charge which involves a phone call which they may or may not answer. i think that's really more of an advantage in theory than in fact for most people. on another note, i was at the hearing for the lumbard street store that the planning commission declined to allow the permit there. and at that time, the opponents of that application said, well, there are -- the landlord has options for that building. there's a hardware store that could go in or a [bell sounds] president chiu: thank you, next speaker. >> my name is deborah heller and
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i'm representing give a dog a bone. we're a 5013c organization who, in partner with san francisco animal and control, care of the custody animals of san francisco residents. we are largely able to exist due to the incredible kindness and gen rost of pet food express who provides all of the toys, treats and food for our animals. we are grateful to pet food express to our city's ages. thank you -- animals. president chiu: next speaker. >> i'm rebecca katz, director of san francisco animal and control. i've talk about how much pet food express has supported san francisco animal care and control in extraordinary ways. they've gone above and beyond in helping us with food and treats and toys for the animals in our
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care as well as by providing us with a space for adoptions when we've been in times of need. we recently were crunched with the number of cats we were holding and they came forward and offered to hold an adoption for us at their store on market street. but it's not just us. it's all of our rescue partners, all over san francisco, all over the bay area. other shelters throughout the bay area. they've given back in ways too many to count. and from an animal welfare perspective and that's where i'm coming from, if pet food express is successful, they can help us even more. and they help the animals, they help those who care about animals. i know there are those here that are concerned about pet food express opening, but we truly appreciate their philanthropy, fete food express' philanthropy. many of the other pet stores payment in contributing, there. and we welcome their support.
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thank you. president chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> good afternoon supervisors, my name is phillip grog, i am an employee of pet food express. i currently oversee the san francisco stores. i come from the pet boutique industry so i understand both sides pretty well and i understand the concerns, and competition is scary. the market street and stones down stores have a significant number of customer who drive there from the lumbard street neighborhood, from the marina, so this location would actually keep business in the neighborhood, and the hope is they shop at california street, they'll make walk down and go to george while we're there. our philosophy is to sell the product in the best interests of the pets, not what will make our coffers the largest. sometimes we don't sell that product. there are several high end pet food companies that do not manufacture enough product to supply us and they supply
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smaller boutiques, independent stores and there are cases where that food is the best in our eyes for that pet and we will refer them to the smaller stores, we recommend they use that product instead of something we sell. we strive to be part of the community, part of the neighborhood. market street, we listen to their concerns, address them quickly and do our best to be part of the neighborhood and work as a community not only with the rescue groups but with the other pet stores, small or large. thank you. president chiu: next speaker, please step up. >> good afternoon, supervisors. i am here to read a letter from suzanne reynolds, the publisher of the "marina times," she couldn't be here. "i want to let you than marina times san francisco strongly support pet food express opening a store. many newspapers have tried to
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come to the marina. we have behemoths like the chronicle, weekly and bay guardian, as well as the nob hill cadet competing directly against us yet we are still standing proudly, the favorite newspaper for the neighborhood and for more than two decades. look at the literally hundreds of large projects competing against the mom and pop shops. we allow trader joe's to open every few months yet the small grocery stores are doing fine. if pam goes out of business, it won't be because of another store, it will be because she has a poor business model, sells boutique items that are way overpriced. every time i walk by her shop on chestnut it is empty, and that hasn't changed since he stopped pet food express opening from another location. since pet food express was halted, there have been dead
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bodies found in the motel parking lots and more drugs and prostitution pop up in the reports every month. the block blockbuster which -- s gone to pot literally, another empty building where drugs and sex are sold day and night in the parking lot. pet food express is a local success story. michael levy opened one store, no different than pam, and grew business slowly and steadily and support the local rescue groups and animal control, organizations that in this economy probably could not survive without the help of pet food express. [bell] president chiu: are there any other members of the public that wish to speak? >> my name is michael williams, a resident of nearly 40 years. i have been conducting consensus reports, accurate and unbiased for quite a few years now and if you have taken one look at union